A Dose of Wisdom from GSK Executive Maryellen Dugan

Acquiring Applicable Experiences

Maryellen Dugan is the current Vice President, Market Lead CERPS (Commercial Enterprise Resource Planning Solution) US Pharma of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which is a global leader in the pharmaceutical industry. Ms. Dugan received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Temple University in Philadelphia. She admits that although her academic background provided her with a strong foundation in what it means to work in a business environment, most of her skills were developed through what she describes as on-the-job-training. The way in which Ms. Dugan organically developed her skills mirrors GSK’s 70/20/10 developmental framework for their employees. The 70% is on the job training, the 20% is mentoring and networking, and the 10% is representative of the amount of formal training employees receive from various organizations. As she reflected on her career, Ms. Dugan acknowledged how her part-time summer jobs in restaurants during college also played a pivotal role in developing skills that are applicable to what she does now as an executive. She elaborated on how, “Restaurants, like most businesses, are in the service industry. Their people are their priorities. These skills translate to GSK and our patients. We are constantly asking ourselves, ‘How do we at GSK fulfill the needs of our patients?’”

Power to the People

The idea of people centricity plays an essential role in the company culture at GSK. The company not only strives to provide their patients with top-notch services, but they also strive to create a work environment that is welcoming and engaging for their employees. Ms. Dugan shared her thoughts regarding how company culture is developed within an organization—specifically at GSK: “I believe that culture is what the people do together and that we drive the culture from the bottom to the top of the organization.” GSK is able to create an open environment by staying true to their core values of  transparency , respect, patient focus, and integrity. GSK is recognized as a cohesive and transparent brand because of the instillation of these core values in every single one of their employees, including Ms. Dugan.

Open Communication Drives Results

It’s been said many times that a team is only as strong as its leader. Through facilitating open communication amongst employees and actively listening to their needs and concerns, Ms. Dugan is able to lead her team to success. She stated, “As a leader my best opportunity is to coach and mentor employees to help them be the very best that they can be. This is really best demonstrated through listening and engagement. Leaders are needed to drive the listening. It’s a priority at GSK to facilitate open communication in order to make our organization better.” This open communication allows for there to be transparency throughout the entire organization. Giving people a true opportunity to speak openly about their concerns creates better teams and outcomes for the company as a whole.

The Big Four

Ms. Dugan has been in the pharmaceutical company for 25 + years and has successfully navigated her career path to become a leader in the life sciences industry. She shared her top four pieces of advice for young women to consider throughout their professional pursuits.

  1. Just do it! Dugan shared, “I actually just saw a great quote on our GSK Workplace site from motivational speaker Zig Ziglar that said, ‘You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.’’ The first step to creating the career you want is just getting started.
  2. Always have a plan. In order to become a leader, you have to have a job, right? Ms. Dugan stressed the importance of having a well-thought-out plan before walking into an interview in order to show the interviewer that you have ambition and a vision for how you can add value to the company. She further explained, “Before the interview, you should have an understanding of the job, the company, the competition, and how to position your capabilities and experiences into relevant examples that will demonstrate you can do the job not just learn the job. You should also have detailed examples—preferable ones where you can quantify a result—that you can discuss during the interview. Another good tip is to bring a 90-day plan with you to the interview. Now, this 90-day plan doesn’t have to be perfect, but what it shows employers is that you’ve done some research and that you’re serious. The 90-day plan also gives the interviewer an idea of how you would approach the role if you were successful in getting the job.”
  3. Embrace change and be flexible. “During the early part of my career change was unsettling. For example, a merger came right after I came to GSK—and there have been a couple since—but I remember feeling worried. I remember thinking questions like: Would there be a change in my role? Would I have to relocate? Would I be happy?’ and How would this change the company’s culture and philosophy? Overtime, those early challenges helped me build resiliency because change is natural in any healthy business. Strategically, I was focused on the benefits of change and the opportunity to help GSK be better in the future. Secondly it taught me the importance of flexibility. It’s crucial to keep a flexible mindset in order to take risks and to take advantage of opportunities when change occurs as well as find ways to maximize your career potential when change comes.”
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. “Something I wish I could have told myself early on is to not take myself so seriously. I think that good leaders have a sense of balance when it comes to driving results all while staying light-hearted. I think good leaders are able to make their balancing act look easy too. They’re driving, but they’re doing so in a fun and motivating way.”

New Developments at GSK

Ms. Dugan is excited to be part of GSK especially as GSK  embarks in a collaboration on  genetics with the help of the company 23andMe. Although GSK has been involved in the study of genetics in the past, this new collaboration with 23andMe will allow the company to expand its impact. Ms. Dugan believes that “this partnership will allow us to explore disease states and target genes specific to them in order to research and develop medications for those diseases.” This is a major and exciting opportunity  for GSK and Ms. Dugan is proud to be part of an organization that continues to place the patient in the center of our research and business efforts.

Stay tuned for more ways you can learn about career opportunities at GSK!

Contributor: Ally Massimi

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